Investments in clean energy are the ideal answer to the high costs of fossil fuels


Both at the pump and on their heating bills, consumers across the United States will be sucked into price increases this year.

The average American household will spend approximately $ 480 (or 31%) more on gasoline in 2021 than in 2020, according to the Energy Information Administration. And home heating bills should be 30% more this year for nearly half of U.S. households that depend on natural gas, with even more severe pain expected for homes that still use propane or fuel oil for heating.

The fossil fuel industry and its political allies have long argued that increasing U.S. production will lower energy prices. But it didn’t work that way because fossil fuels remain a global commodity subject to boom-bust cycles. The push to export fossil fuels produced in the United States has ensured that this is the case, leaving us more vulnerable to bad actors like OPEC and the Russian President. Vladimir PoutineVladimir Vladimirovich Putin The memo: Biden, bruised by Afghanistan, faces critical test in Ukraine Biden holds appeal with European leaders to discuss Russia’s defense and national security overnight – Preparing for the ‘Biden-Poutine PLUS call who have systematically militarized supply to manipulate global oil and natural gas prices or respond to their geopolitical whims.

The good news is that we now have readily available solutions to reduce our consumption of fossil fuels, lower energy prices and protect ourselves against energy instability. Better yet, efficiency and renewables are less expensive than the fossil fuels they will replace.

This is just as true for our cars and trucks as it is for our homes and offices. In a very short time, small initial investments in efficiency or electrification improvements pay off and lead to significant reductions in the costs of operating or heating and cooling our buildings. In the past year alone, gasoline prices have fallen from $ 2.26 to $ 3.28. At this high price, the cost of driving a gasoline car is about three times the cost of driving an electric vehicle. And if you charge your EV at night (off peak), the cost will be halved. A well managed electric car costs one-sixth as much to operate, which means the cost of purchasing an EV is recouped quickly.

Better standards of construction and appliances (eg refrigerators, air conditioners, lighting) are also designed to protect consumers from high energy bills. In many cases, significant efficiency gains can be achieved for the cost of a single cup of coffee. For example, replacing a single bulb from an incandescent bulb with an LED reduces its energy consumption by 75%, save $ 40 to $ 90 over a decade, not to mention the advantage of rarely changing the bulb.

The main benefit of electricity, however, comes from the growing renewable energy sources to produce it. Wind and solar are now cheaper than coal and even gas, and energy analysts expect this cost advantage to continue to grow. Therefore, the United States could reliably deliver 90% clean electricity nationwide by 2035 and 80% by 2030 at no additional cost to consumers, according to several studies.

While this would give us lower out-of-pocket costs and less volatility, we would also get the benefits of reduced pollution, including better health and lower healthcare costs, as well as a significant reduction in gas emissions. greenhouse gases that lead to devastating climate change.

The Rebuild Better Act aims to reduce our consumption of fossil fuels with heavy investments and tax incentives to advance renewable energies, electric vehicles, as well as the efficiency and electrification of buildings. But even if Congress is able to pass this legislation in the coming weeks, fossil fuels are not going to disappear from our economy overnight. To protect American consumers from the often expensive and always volatile gas and oil prices, it is essential that we continue to implement the highest efficiency standards possible.

For example, the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration should adopt the next generation of clean car efficiency standards with a requirement that automakers actually produce electric vehicles. The Department of Energy should immediately implement minimum efficiency standards for everyday light bulbs (where each month of delay costs US consumers nearly $ 300 million in lost utility savings).

The Biden administration will undoubtedly declare victory if it gets the Build Back Better bill passed. However, measures like these are still needed to save consumers money and protect Americans from the inevitable fossil fuel price hikes.

Jack Gillis is executive director of the Consumer Federation of America (CFA), an association of nonprofit consumer organizations. He previously held the position of Director of Public Affairs for the CFA from 1983 to 2018. Gillis also advocates for issues related to automobile safety, vehicle purchasing, energy efficiency and consumer protection.

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